Cybersecurity Issues to Keep an Eye on in the New Year

With record-breaking attacks in 2021 according to Crowdstrike, end-users and organizations must remain vigilant to protect against cybersecurity threats. Gartner, an IT industry research firm, predicts that by 2025 more than 75% of organizations will face one or more attacks by bad actors due to the exponential growth in the threat landscape. According to an Identity Theft Resource Center report, data compromises were up in 10 out of 13 sectors in the third quarter of 2021. Industry analysts and professionals across the board have identified some key areas that companies should focus on for 2022.

DNS Security: In 2021, Domain Name Services (DNS) attacks continued to rise, with ransomware injected into the storyline. According to efficient IP in an IDC industry report of DNS attacks, 87% of organizations surveyed had experienced one or more attacks costing an average of $950,000 in damages. From phishing to misconfiguration, bad actors continue to disrupt organizations with this type of attack strategy.

DevOps API Security: As organizations continue to build applications to provide to customers, this particular threat grows. According to Datacenter Knowledge, API attacks and breaches are piling up, and the frequency of these attacks leads to significant data breaches with millions of users’ data exposed. With API communication accounting for over 83% of internet traffic, this challenge will continue to grow in 2022.

Cloud Security and Visibility: Although spending on cloud security is expected to increase, many organizations are still struggling to keep cloud environments protected. According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), over 90% of data breaches originate from cloud assets.

Certificate Lifecycle Management: Certificate outages are on the rise. SSL attack frequency and severity keep increasing. ZDNet recently reported that the HTTPS threat growth is over 314% year over year. Through the compromise of certificates, hackers can access accounts and assets to exfiltrate data.

Data Privacy & Security/GDPR/CCPA and Other Regulatory Trends: As government entities and regulatory bodies raise the bar on data privacy, organizations must increase investments in this area. According to Legaljobs, more than 79% of users are convinced they have lost complete control over their personal information online. As breaches continue to happen, individuals’ information is being monetized by hackers. Organizations will need robust data security strategies to protect customer data as bad actors continue to wreak havoc.

Remote Workers with Insider Threats: The pandemic has continued to exacerbate the issue with prolonged remote workers. Organizations at one point expected the workforce to return to the office.  The new standard will include hybrid and remote workers. The use of remote desktop protocol and other workarounds that IT teams adopted to speed up the process needs to be addressed. Organizations must provide more secure ways of connecting to company assets long-term and bolster data loss protection strategies. According to Verizon, insiders are still the biggest threat to security.

Third-Party/Supply Chain Risk: This challenge manifested in the Kaseya ransomware attack in 2021.  As managed service providers continue to extend their reach, security controls must be adopted with rigor. In a recent report, Kaspersky stated that third-party incidents became the most costly enterprise data breach in 2021, with an average of $1.4 million per incident. With over 32% of enterprise organizations suffering some type of attack involving data shared with a supplier, this is one of the fastest-growing security areas of concern.

IoT-DoS Protection and AI: With the growing number of devices connecting to corporate networks and the internet, this area continues to create holes in security. NIST has rolled out guidance on this area, and organizations should start to plan to comply with those standards to protect the Internet of Things (IoT) landscape.

Mobile Device Attack Vector: With the acceleration of contactless pay and other mobile applications, the mobile space has become a target for hackers. According to CheckPoint, over 60% of company users will be using mobile devices by 2024.

Phishing Targeted Attacks: Phishing continues to be the No. 1 way terrible things enter the organization. Companies must continue to invest in this area. 

Multi-Factor Authentication and User Identity: Credential compromise through phishing, smishing, vishing, and other techniques still overwhelmingly dominates the security space. Bad actors must gain access through credentials to move through environments to exfiltrate files that are then monetized. User identities will continue to be a problem in 2022. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adoption will continue to grow in popularity with the use of artificial intelligence to determine users’ accounts have been compromised.

With the acceleration of attacks, regulatory requirements from privacy to breach notifications are increasing. Recent executive orders to private businesses from the White House will require organizations to report breaches with shorter deadlines and implement specific security controls within the computing environments. Organizations must find ways to improve the computing environment’s security or be prepared for significant financial implications.

Stephanie Benoit Kurtz is Lead Faculty for the College of Information Systems and Technology at University of Phoenix and has taught IT-related courses over the past 20 years. She is also Principal Security Consultant at Trace3. Stephanie has over 25 years of industry experience in Information Technology and Security Solutions and Consulting.

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